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On Commitment In Kanban

July 29, 2020
5 minute read
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By James Steele

Most people would rather be wrong than uncertain. When the prospect of being right is questionable, human beings would rather commit to a position and be wrong, rather than hold a posture of uncertainty and avoid commitment altogether.

Our order of preference is: #1 – to be right, #2 – to be wrong, and #3 – to remain uncertain. Why #’s 1 and 2? Because we are addicted to the false sense of security that commitments give us.

Organizations that are part of a domain where uncertainty is high, such as knowledge work or professional services, pay a heavy price if they take a similar approach to commitments about what and when to work on customer requests.

Making too many commitments results in unpredictable delivery times. We have so much work in the system that we really have no idea when things are going to get done. There are too many potential outcomes (variability) stemming from unmanageable levels of work in progress (WIP). Unfortunately, even though customers are going to be disappointed, we feel good because many things have been committed to. That’s a false sense of security.

We are emotionally attached to the idea of just saying yes! However, many ideas that initially seemed like good ideas are often discarded once we receive more information. In fact, 50% is a commonly observed discard rate! We should strive to keep customer requests optional for as long as we reasonable can. We should also limit the amount of time we spend in the care and feeding (grooming) of optional work – especially if 50% of it is likely to be discarded.

Another downside of committing too early is that we are more likely to abort the work once we have already invested time and money in starting it. Why? If you say yes to everything, or say yes too early, you’re likely agreeing to a lot of bad ideas! We become so emotionally attached to our commitments that it can be hard to let go. Choose wisely!

It is ideal to keep work optional and un-prioritized for as long as you can. Options have value in uncertain domains.

Developing options before converting them (committing) is an important risk mitigation strategy. It does cost money to develop options, but think of it as buying insurance to protect you from much larger negative consequences down the road (like starting work you did not really want to do and having to abort it at great expense). The more uncertain the environment, the more insurance you are likely to want.

Okay! So committing to start work too early (or taking too much of it on) and not keeping our options open can be a costly strategy in uncertain domains. We should aim to defer commitment and keep customer requests optional for as along as we reasonable we can!

How do we do that?

The Kanban Method encourages deferred commitment and provides a set of principles and practices that are receptive to developing an approach to managing risk that enables work to remain optional. In doing so, service delivery of customer requests is more predictable and reliable. It also helps to increase the likelihood that we are working on the right things at the right time.

Constructs within the Kanban Method that help to leverage deferred commitment are:

  • Upstream Kanban – a way to marshal options before the commitment is made.
  • Clearly identifying commitment points.
  • Two-phase commitments: a commitment to start and a commitment to deliver.
  • Mechanisms to funnel options (pay our insurance) before we choose to convert them.
  • Shaping Demand – a way to balance demand with capability by allocating capacity to certain types work and risk.
  • Enabling a responsible approach to the discarding of options so that we can avoid aborting after commitment.
  • A practice of limiting the amount of work in the system so that we do not make commitments that exceed our capacity and make our delivery unpredictable.
  • Visualizing the flow of work and the policies around our work – so that when we do commit, we can meet our promise to deliver.
  • Visually seeing the interruptions to the flow of work in a WIP limited system encourage us to have discussions and evolve our policies.

If you are interested in learning more about each of these practices and how to apply them in your place of work, consider signing up for a BERTEIG premium management training workshops. 

Specifically we offer five Kanban University accredited management classes:

Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP)

Kanban System Design® (KMP I)

Kanban System Improvement® (KMP II)

Kanban Maturity Model® (KMM)

Kanban Coaching Practices® (KCP)

 

[This article was originally published on Agile Advice on 12-Nov-2018]

 


 
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  • Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) [Virtual Learning] badge

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    08 JUL 2021 - Thursday - Online - Jerry Doucett

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    - Boost your Agile Team Performance -

    This 1-day course guides you in the foundations of the Kanban Method® and serves as a fast starting point to an alternative path to Real Agility™. This course is designed for you if you are facilitating teams doing projects, operations, development, support, or research. Achieve the Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) credential with Kanban University® by successfully completing this course.

    - Participate in the FeatureBan simulation for immersive learning
    - Build a real-world Kanban board with guidance from our trainer
    - 8 PDUs | 8 SEUs
    - Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) certificate
    - Profile listing on the KU (Kanban University) alumni page
    - Registered Education Provider with KU
    - Taught by Accredited Kanban Trainers only

    EXCLUSIVE: Free "Kanban for Teams" e-book written by BERTEIG consultants!

    Please note that to become certified with Kanban University, you must keep your video on throughout the duration of this course.

    Download the recommended reading by 'David J. Anderson and Andy Carmichael':
    Essential Kanban Condensed


    [Register using a corporate email address, for corporate loyalty program discounts.]
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    Location:

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    Date:

    Thu 08-Jul-2021

    Time:

    09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (EST)

    Trainer:
    Jerry Doucett

    Jerry Doucett


    VP Training Services, Senior Consultant and Instructor
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    Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) [Virtual Learning]

    19 AUG 2021 - Thursday - Online - Jerry Doucett

    Early-bird Discount! C$1195.00 C$1015.75 Until 20-Jul Register Now

    - Boost your Agile Team Performance -

    This 1-day course guides you in the foundations of the Kanban Method® and serves as a fast starting point to an alternative path to Real Agility™. This course is designed for you if you are facilitating teams doing projects, operations, development, support, or research. Achieve the Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) credential with Kanban University® by successfully completing this course.

    - Participate in the FeatureBan simulation for immersive learning
    - Build a real-world Kanban board with guidance from our trainer
    - 8 PDUs | 8 SEUs
    - Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) certificate
    - Profile listing on the KU (Kanban University) alumni page
    - Registered Education Provider with KU
    - Taught by Accredited Kanban Trainers only

    EXCLUSIVE: Free "Kanban for Teams" e-book written by BERTEIG consultants!

    Please note that to become certified with Kanban University, you must keep your video on throughout the duration of this course.

    Download the recommended reading by 'David J. Anderson and Andy Carmichael':
    Essential Kanban Condensed


    [Register using a corporate email address, for corporate loyalty program discounts.]
    Read More

    Location:

    Online

    Date:

    Thu 19-Aug-2021

    Time:

    09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (EST)

    Trainer:
    Jerry Doucett

    Jerry Doucett


    VP Training Services, Senior Consultant and Instructor
    About Trainer
  • Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) [Virtual Learning] badge

    Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) [Virtual Learning]

    23 SEP 2021 - Thursday - Online - Jerry Doucett

    Early-bird Discount! C$1195.00 C$1015.75 Until 25-Aug Register Now

    - Boost your Agile Team Performance -

    This 1-day course guides you in the foundations of the Kanban Method® and serves as a fast starting point to an alternative path to Real Agility™. This course is designed for you if you are facilitating teams doing projects, operations, development, support, or research. Achieve the Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) credential with Kanban University® by successfully completing this course.

    - Participate in the FeatureBan simulation for immersive learning
    - Build a real-world Kanban board with guidance from our trainer
    - 8 PDUs | 8 SEUs
    - Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) certificate
    - Profile listing on the KU (Kanban University) alumni page
    - Registered Education Provider with KU
    - Taught by Accredited Kanban Trainers only

    EXCLUSIVE: Free "Kanban for Teams" e-book written by BERTEIG consultants!

    Please note that to become certified with Kanban University, you must keep your video on throughout the duration of this course.

    Download the recommended reading by 'David J. Anderson and Andy Carmichael':
    Essential Kanban Condensed


    [Register using a corporate email address, for corporate loyalty program discounts.]
    Read More

    Location:

    Online

    Date:

    Thu 23-Sep-2021

    Time:

    09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (EST)

    Trainer:
    Jerry Doucett

    Jerry Doucett


    VP Training Services, Senior Consultant and Instructor
    About Trainer
  • Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) [Virtual Learning] badge

    Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) [Virtual Learning]

    21 OCT 2021 - Thursday - Online - Jerry Doucett

    Early-bird Discount! C$1195.00 C$1015.75 Until 22-Sep Register Now

    - Boost your Agile Team Performance -

    This 1-day course guides you in the foundations of the Kanban Method® and serves as a fast starting point to an alternative path to Real Agility™. This course is designed for you if you are facilitating teams doing projects, operations, development, support, or research. Achieve the Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) credential with Kanban University® by successfully completing this course.

    - Participate in the FeatureBan simulation for immersive learning
    - Build a real-world Kanban board with guidance from our trainer
    - 8 PDUs | 8 SEUs
    - Team Kanban Practitioner® (TKP) certificate
    - Profile listing on the KU (Kanban University) alumni page
    - Registered Education Provider with KU
    - Taught by Accredited Kanban Trainers only

    EXCLUSIVE: Free "Kanban for Teams" e-book written by BERTEIG consultants!

    Please note that to become certified with Kanban University, you must keep your video on throughout the duration of this course.

    Download the recommended reading by 'David J. Anderson and Andy Carmichael':
    Essential Kanban Condensed


    [Register using a corporate email address, for corporate loyalty program discounts.]
    Read More

    Location:

    Online

    Date:

    Thu 21-Oct-2021

    Time:

    09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (EST)

    Trainer:
    Jerry Doucett

    Jerry Doucett


    VP Training Services, Senior Consultant and Instructor
    About Trainer
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    Kanban System Design® (KSD) [Virtual Learning]

    14 to 15 JUL 2021 (2 days) - Starting Wednesday - Online - Jerry Doucett

    C$1795.00 Register Now

    - Improve Knowledge Work Productivity -

    This 2-day workshop - Kanban System Design (KSD) - also known as 'Kanban for Real Agility®' - provides you with the fundamentals of the Kanban Method® . It is designed specifically for leaders starting their organization on the gentler path towards Real Agility™. This learning event is ideal for you if you are responsible for the delivery of a service. Learn the concepts of flow, pull, classes of service, and learn to deal with interruptions and multi-tasking. Learn the Systems Thinking Approach To Implementing Kanban (STATIK) through a multi-step interactive case study review.

    This KSD course, (formerly known as Kanban Management Professional 1 - KMP I), is the first of two courses towards the Kanban Management Professional (KMP) credential. The KSD is the prerequisite to the Kanban Systems Improvement course (KSI). By completing both this course (KSD) and the KSI, participants can earn their KMP credential with Kanban University®.

    Key Benefits
    - Participate in a Kanban simulation for immersive learning
    - Design your service's Kanban board with guidance from our Kanban experts
    - Start your Kanban adoption and in evolving your system
    - Earn 16 PDUs | 16 SEUs
    - Obtain your Kanban University® KSD certificate
    - Completion of this and the KSI class will earn you the Kanban University® KMP credential
    - Get a profile listing on the Kanban University® alumni page
    - We are a Registered Education Provider with Kanban University® and PMI®
    - Taught by and overseen by Accredited Kanban Trainers (AKT's)

    EXCLUSIVE: Free "Kanban for Managers" e-book written by BERTEIG consultants!

    Download the recommended reading by 'David J. Anderson and Andy Carmichael':
    Essential Kanban Condensed

    Please register using a corporate email address, for corporate loyalty program discounts.
    Read More

    Location:

    Online

    Date:

    Wed 14-Jul-2021
    Thu 15-Jul-2021

    Time:

    09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (EST)

    Trainer:
    Jerry Doucett

    Jerry Doucett


    VP Training Services, Senior Consultant and Instructor
    About Trainer
  • Kanban System Design® (KSD) [Virtual Learning]	 badge

    Kanban System Design® (KSD) [Virtual Learning]

    15 to 16 SEP 2021 (2 days) - Starting Wednesday - Online - Jerry Doucett

    Early-bird Discount! C$1795.00 C$1525.75 Until 16-Aug Register Now

    - Improve Knowledge Work Productivity -

    This 2-day workshop - Kanban System Design (KSD) - also known as 'Kanban for Real Agility®' - provides you with the fundamentals of the Kanban Method® . It is designed specifically for leaders starting their organization on the gentler path towards Real Agility™. This learning event is ideal for you if you are responsible for the delivery of a service. Learn the concepts of flow, pull, classes of service, and learn to deal with interruptions and multi-tasking. Learn the Systems Thinking Approach To Implementing Kanban (STATIK) through a multi-step interactive case study review.

    This KSD course, (formerly known as Kanban Management Professional 1 - KMP I), is the first of two courses towards the Kanban Management Professional (KMP) credential. The KSD is the prerequisite to the Kanban Systems Improvement course (KSI). By completing both this course (KSD) and the KSI, participants can earn their KMP credential with Kanban University®.

    Key Benefits
    - Participate in a Kanban simulation for immersive learning
    - Design your service's Kanban board with guidance from our Kanban experts
    - Start your Kanban adoption and in evolving your system
    - Earn 16 PDUs | 16 SEUs
    - Obtain your Kanban University® KSD certificate
    - Completion of this and the KSI class will earn you the Kanban University® KMP credential
    - Get a profile listing on the Kanban University® alumni page
    - We are a Registered Education Provider with Kanban University® and PMI®
    - Taught by and overseen by Accredited Kanban Trainers (AKT's)

    EXCLUSIVE: Free "Kanban for Managers" e-book written by BERTEIG consultants!

    Download the recommended reading by 'David J. Anderson and Andy Carmichael':
    Essential Kanban Condensed

    Please register using a corporate email address, for corporate loyalty program discounts.
    Read More

    Location:

    Online

    Date:

    Wed 15-Sep-2021
    Thu 16-Sep-2021

    Time:

    09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (EST)

    Trainer:
    Jerry Doucett

    Jerry Doucett


    VP Training Services, Senior Consultant and Instructor
    About Trainer

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